Siff 2022 Review: Quant

Year: 2021

Runtime: 87 minutes

Director: Sadie Frost

By Joan Amenn

Sometimes, the stars align and an incredibly talented person is in just the right time and place to do something revolutionary. If this documentary is any indication, then Mary Quant led such a charmed life and this is a charming film that bears her name. Not exactly a deep dive into such controversies as to whether Quant did indeed invent the miniskirt, or the pros and cons of excessive licensing of one’s brand, it is a fun look back to the more upbeat moments of the 1960’s.

Sometimes, the stars align and an incredibly talented person is in just the right time and place to do something revolutionary.

Quant was just a young woman attending art college in London when the world seemed to be making a seismic shift. She had wanted to be a fashion designer but her parents did not approve so she found her first job as a milliner, which she did not enjoy. Her life forever changed when she met her future husband, Alexander Plunkett Greene who was a marketing genius. Together they launched their own boutique that showcased Mary’s fashion designs with a little financial help fromm coffee shop owner Archie McNair. This trio brought creativity, business acumen and showmanship to launch a juggernaut of fashion that took London by storm.

“Quant” (2021) is a fond reminiscence of an era when young people were rebelling against the values of their parents and expressing their freedom through fashion. Dave Davies of The Kinks is featured with other celebrities of the time to give their takes on what it was like to be on the scene. Of course, it was The Kinks who recorded the song, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and Quant knew how to give young devotees what they wanted. She did name the short skirt style she featured in her designs the “mini” so whether she actually created it or not is really not important. The fact remains, the “miniskirt” is known as such to this day and she helped to popularize it.

The film is a great reminder that so much of what we see in the media today originated in the 60’s, from fashion to music to cosmetics. Mary Quant was a pioneer of licensing her designs on everything from makeup kits to shoes to housewares. Admittedly, this may not have been such a wonderful idea with the excessiveness of branding that we see today. However, as a successful businesswoman at a time when women were supposed to stay home and raise children, Quant was certainly an inspiration. Director Sadie Frost keeps the fun of the “British invasion’ of the 1960’s rolling throughout her documentary and it is a great party to be invited to. Quant knew what she wanted and she went out and built it, with a little help from her friends.

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